A couple of years ago (I’m sure it was at least that long) when I first saw a video for this over at The Tarot Garden‘s site (seems to be gone now) I thought, you’ve got to be kidding. It seemed like a complete rip-off of a certain popular book series, and I was frankly surprised anyone would do it. Then while surfing Amazon a few weeks ago, I noticed it had finally been released. You can see all the cards on The Wizards Tarot site, so of course I looked through them all. And you know, despite it being patterned after the Harry Potter books, I started to find I rather liked it. So I ordered it.
I haven’t spent a lot of time with it yet, but it seems to hold a good deal of promise. I was really drawn to all the pagan symbolism of the deck, and especially liked the Sun card. The figure is holding an eight-spoked disk that illustrates the pagan Wheel of the Year, marking the eight Sabbats (Samhain, Yule, Imbolg, Ostara, Beltane, Lammas, Lughnasadh, Mabon). The Star looks like Nut, Egyptian goddess of the sky.
The book is written by Corinne Kenner, and contains fairly detailed descriptions of the cards, lots of spreads, one with each Major card. For the High Priestess, there’s a retitled Celtic Cross, called the “Mandrake Cross”. The cards were illustrated by John J. Blumen.
Some of the Majors have been retitled, nearly all have a subtitle:
The Initiate (The Fool)
The High Priestess
The Emperor (personified as the Headmaster)
The Hierophant: Professor of Mythology
The Lovers: Professor of Spellcraft
The Chariot: Professor of Astral Travel
Strength: Professor of Familiar Creatures
The Hermit: Librarian and Professor of Candle Magic
Wheel of Fortune: Guidance Counselor
Justice: Professor of Ethics
The Hanged Man: Professor of Runes
Transfiguration: Professor of Transfiguration
The Alchemist: Professor of Alchemy
The Dark Lord: Professor of the Dark Arts
The Tower: A Visitor’s Guide to the Tower
The Star: Professor of Astrology
The Moon: Professor of Lunar Magic
The Sun: Professor of Solar Magic
Judgment: Proctor of Final Exams
The World: Queen of the Witches
I love The Initiate card. A young girl in white robe of innocence stands barefoot with her pack containing her magic tools. In her right arm is her familiar, a white rabbit. Hares were once considered to be witches’ familiars, so this is especially fitting. This has overtones of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, as well as being a tongue-in-cheek reference to new students of the Craft who are often called ‘fluffy bunnies.’ Also the rabbit’s shape echoes the Hebrew letter aleph, the letter associated with the Fool card, and the glyph can be seen on the boulder in front of her.
Each card has a small section on the field of study associated with the professor. For instance, the Hanged Man as the professor of Runes has a section on the Norse runes. The Hierophant is a centaur, and as Professor of Mythology his section contains information on Greek and Roman pantheons, and which Major Arcana card is related to each. There are segments on astrology, alchemy, and more. As I said, it packs a lot into 239 pages. I would definitely recommend getting the deck/book set while you can. If they follow the usual pattern, the deck will eventually be released on its own and without the book it might be hard to pick up on meanings behind some of the images.
The artwork appears to be largely computer-generated, which is ok, although I tend to prefer hand-painted/drawn art on my cards. I will say the cups look really good, the metal shines like highly polished silver and is quite realistic.
Each of the suits represents one of the houses of Mandrake Academy. The court cards are the elementals that guard the campus: Sylphs for Air (Swords), Salamanders for Fire (Wands), Mermaids for Water (Cups) and Gnomes for Earth (Pentacles).
The only card that is at all risque is the Moon. There is minimal nudity, mostly bare-breasted mermaids in the Cups suit making this a very safe deck to do public readings with, or readings for children, or even a great deck for a young student of the Tarot. For all that, it’s not necessarily a children’s deck, I think there’s a lot in this deck for anyone who wants something fun but still with some depth. So despite its having been inspired by Harry Potter, the deck puts its own spin on the idea of a witch school, adding to it and emphasizing the learning aspect. It follows the Waite-Smith structure for the most part, so if you’re familiar with that you won’t get too lost. Color me a Harry Potter geek, but this is a fun little deck.
You can get Wizards Tarot